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Portal:Early Modern Britain

Related subjects History; Portals


Early Modern Britain

Early Modern Britain is the history of the island of Great Britain roughly corresponding to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Major historical events in Early Modern British history include the English Renaissance, the English Reformation and Scottish Reformation, the English Civil War, the Restoration of Charles II, the Glorious Revolution, the Treaty of Union, the Enlightenment and the formation of the First British Empire.

Selected article

16th century depiction of the Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada (Spanish: Grande y Felicísima Armada "Great and Most Fortunate Navy" or Armada Invencible, "Invincible Navy") was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, leading to the Norris-Drake Expedition or English Armada of 1589. King Philip II of Spain had been king consort of England until the death, in 1558, of his wife, Queen Mary I of England, and he took exception to the policies pursued by her successor, his sister-in-law Elizabeth I. The aim of his expedition was to invade and conquer England, thereby suppressing support for the United Provinces – that part of the Spanish Netherlands in possession of the Dutch rebels – and cutting off attacks by the English against Spanish possessions in the New World and against the Atlantic treasure fleets. The king was supported by Pope Sixtus V, who treated the invasion as a crusade, with the promise of a further subsidy should the Armada make land.

The Armada's appointed commander was the highly experienced Álvaro de Bazán, but he died in February 1588, and Medina Sidonia took his place. The fleet set out with 22 warships of the Spanish Royal Navy and 108 converted merchant vessels, with the intention of sailing through the English Channel to anchor off the coast of Flanders, where the Duke of Parma's army of tercios would stand ready for an invasion of the south-east of England. The Armada achieved its first goal and anchored outside Gravelines, at the coastal border area between France and the Spanish Netherlands. While awaiting communications from Parma's army, it was driven from its anchorage by an English fire ship attack, and in the ensuing battle at Gravelines the Spanish were forced to abandon their rendezvous with Parma's army. The Armada managed to regroup and withdraw north, with the English fleet harrying it for some distance up the east coast of England. A return voyage to Spain was plotted, and the fleet sailed into the Atlantic, past Ireland. But severe storms disrupted the fleet's course, and more than 24 vessels were wrecked on the north and western coasts of Ireland, with the survivors having to seek refuge in Scotland. Of the fleet's initial complement, about 50 vessels failed to make it back to Spain. The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Anglo–Spanish War ( 1585– 1604). (read more . . . )

Selected biography

Issac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton, FRS (pronounced /ˈnjuːtən/; 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727 [ OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726]) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries and is the basis for modern engineering. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the scientific revolution.

In mechanics, Newton enunciated the principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum. In optics, he invented the reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into a visible spectrum. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound. In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus. He also demonstrated the generalised binomial theorem, developed the so-called "Newton's method" for approximating the zeroes of a function, and contributed to the study of power series. (read more . . . )


Selected picture

(Four Times of the Day clockwise from top left: Morning, Noon, Night, and Evening)
Credit William Hogarth
The paintings of Four Times of the Day (clockwise from top left: Morning, Noon, Night, and Evening) by William Hogarth (1736) showing humorous depictions of life in the streets of London. (read more . . . )

Selected quotes

We thought that the clergy of our realm had been our subjects wholly, but now we have well perceived that they be but half our subjects, yea, and scarce our subjects; for all the prelates at their consecration make an oath to the Pope, clean contrary to the oath that they make to us, so that they seem to be his subjects, and not ours.

Henry VIII of England, Speech to the Convocation of Canterbury in 1532, relating to the Submission of the Clergy

Did you know?

Taste high life William Hogarth
  • ... that William Hogarth was paid sixty guineas to paint Taste in High Life (engraving pictured), a 1742 oil-on-canvas that pokes fun at the fashion of the upper class?
  • ...that, on opening night of Samuel Johnson's Irene, audiences cried "Murder!" after seeing the main character strangled on stage?
  • ... that Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes, an early Elizabethan stage play whose authorship is unknown, is thought to have influenced several of William Shakespeare's plays?
  • ... that the British ship of the line HMS Colchester, launched in August 1744, was wrecked just two months later after running aground on her first commissioned voyage?
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